Sometimes a reading raises questions. These verses of Psalm 51 do for me:
“Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight.”
Indeed, in guilt I was born,
and in sin my mother conceived me;
Behold, you are pleased with sincerity of heart,
and in my inmost being you teach me wisdom.
The Lectionary gives quotes. The NAB version, slightly different, doesn’t.
Psalm 51 may be a lyrical and beautiful expression of contrition, but it is not a perfect confession. David sinned against his general and Bathsheba and his whole army. That’s more than God. Even a king is answerable to and responsible for his people. And we, too, as penitents, are responsible for our offenses.
Verse 7 is an expression of misery. We indeed can feel so steeped in transgression, and so deep into problems of our own making that it seems to stretch back to birth. I think 51:7 is less a confirmation of original sin and more a metaphor for a penitent who feels something bad has lasted so long.
With verse 8, we find a change of tone. There’s hope. We hope we offer a sincere confession. And in turn, we hope God gives us grace. Would I ask for wisdom? I think I would be happy with insight. Maybe that’s the same thing. What do you think?